Jewelry Care
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Rhodium is the most expensive metal on the planet, even more so than gold or platinum, and is extremely rare. It is hypoallergenic, extremely lustrous, withstands corrosion and is highly durable. All these qualities make rhodium perfect for jewelry, but due to the hardness and brittleness of the metal, as well as the exorbitant cost, it cannot be used in its pure form to make jewelry. The only way rhodium is used in jewelry is to plate other metals such as gold, platinum, brass, silver and palladium, to name a few.

Silver is the least expensive of the precious metals and has been used in jewelry since ancient times. Because pure silver is very soft, it is often alloyed with other metals to make it stronger, which then becomes sterling silver. Unlike white gold, it is not necessary to plate sterling silver to gain a white color as white is silver’s natural hue.

Rhodium is plated on sterling silver using an electroplating process. The cleaned silver jewelry is placed in a bath with a rhodium solution. A positive electric current is then used to permanently fuse the rhodium onto the silver.


Why Rhodium Plate Sterling Silver Jewelry?

While silver does not require plating, there are many benefits in having sterling silver jewelry rhodium plated.

Tarnish Free

One of the characteristics of silver is that it tarnishes very easily, developing a dark patina over time. As a result, silver must be frequently polished in order to retain its shiny luster. Rhodium, on the other hand, is highly tarnish resistant and does not corrode, stain or change color. By plating sterling silver with rhodium, tarnishing can be avoided and the piece of jewelry remains white and lustrous much longer. You’ll find that many jewelry designers choose rhodium plating just to avoid silver tarnishing.

Higher Luster

Although sterling silver by itself can be bright and reflective when polished, rhodium plated sterling silver has a higher luster and whiteness which lasts longer than if the piece were not plated. This gives sterling silver a modern look. However, if you prefer the more vintage-like charm of sterling silver and the greyish patina it develops, it’s best not to opt for rhodium plated sterling silver. Instead, you can choose sterling silver and polish it when required.

Increases Durability

When sterling silver is rhodium plated, the durability of the jewelry is increased significantly. Rhodium is a hard metal unlike silver which is quite soft. Rhodium plating reduces the likelihood of the piece gaining scrapes or scratches, making the piece more resistant and resilient.


Silver in its pure form is hypoallergenic but sterling silver is not always so. This is because sterling silver is an alloy and can contain common metal allergens such as nickel. For those sensitive to metal allergies, sterling silver can sometimes cause reactions. Rhodium plating is hypoallergenic and because it acts as a barrier between the base metal and the wearer’s skin, it is a good way to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

The Downside of Rhodium Plating

Rhodium plating is permanent but like all types of plating, it tends to flake off over time due to exposure and wear and tear. As a result, rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry may require re-plating after a while depending on the micron level of electroplating. Every 2-4 years or so for lower micron levels and 5-10 years for higher levels. For less exposed jewelry such as earrings or necklaces, replating may only be required about once in 10 -15 years.

The good news is that because sterling silver is white, it will be difficult to see when the plating has worn off, unlike with white gold, where the base metal is yellow-tinged. As a result, you can put off replating for a long time as it’s likely the piece will still look bright and shiny.

Taking Care of Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Jewelry

The best way to keep rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry lustrous and reflective is by maintaining it carefully. For this, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive equipment on your jewelry. Some people prefer to use toothpaste as a cleaner for sterling silver jewelry but it’s best avoided for rhodium plated jewelry as toothpaste is quite harsh and abrasive.

Careful maintenance will keep rhodium plating lustrous. 

Opt instead for mild liquid soaps, warm water and soft brushes/cloths when cleaning. While there are special polishing cloths for sterling silver, avoid these with rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry as the cloth can make the rhodium flake off.

Important Tips:

The best thing you can do to help gold-plated or Rhodium-Plated jewelry keep its luster as long as possible is to take preventative measures to reduce damage.

  • Make sure your hands are free of lotions, make-up, and soil before handling rhodium-plated or gold-plated pieces.
  • Do not apply make-up, perfume, or hairspray while wearing rhodium-plated or gold-plated jewelry.
  • Remove any rhodium-plated or gold-plated rings and bracelets while preparing acidic foods.
  • Do not swim in chlorinated or salt-water pools while wearing rhodium-plated or gold-plated jewelry.
  • Remove rhodium-plated or gold-plated pieces before exercising or when sweating profusely to prevent salts from damaging the electroplating.
  • Don't carry rhodium-plated or gold-plated jewelry tossed in a purse or mingled with other pieces to prevent scratching.
  • Store rhodium-plated or gold-plated jewelry separately in small boxes to prevent damage.